Abstract. The effect of fire on annual plants was examined in two vegetation types at remnant vegetation edges in the Western Australian wheatbelt. Density and cover of non‐native species were consistently greatest at the reserve edges, decreasing rapidly with increasing distance from reserve edge. Numbers of native species showed little effect of distance from reserve edge. Fire had no apparent effect on abundance of non‐natives in Allocasuarina shrubland but abundance of native plants increased. Density of both non‐native and native plants in Acacia acuminata‐Eucalyptus loxophleba woodland decreased after fire. Fewer non‐native species were found in the shrubland than in the woodland in both unburnt and burnt areas, this difference being smallest between burnt areas. Levels of soil phosphorus and nitrate were higher in burnt areas of both communities and ammonium also increased in the shrubland. Levels of soil phosphorus and nitrate were higher at the reserve edge in the unburnt shrubland, but not in the woodland. There was a strong correlation between soil phosphorus levels and abundance of non‐native species in the unburnt shrubland, but not after fire or in the woodland. Removal of non‐native plants in the burnt shrubland had a strong positive effect on total abundance of native plants, apparently due to increases in growth of smaller, suppressed native plants in response to decreased competition. Two native species showed increased seed production in plots where non‐native plants had been removed. There was a general indication that, in the short term, fire does not necessarily increase invasion of these communities by non‐native species and could, therefore be a useful management tool in remnant vegetation, providing other disturbances are minimised.
Journal of Vegetation Science – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1992
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